It came down to the wire, but the eternal Iñigo Cuesta will not be retiring.
Cuesta, who will turn 42 in June, landed a deal over the weekend with the Spanish pro continental team Caja Rural that will keep him the peloton through the 2011 season.
Cuesta will be the oldest rider at the elite level of the sport and one of the final riders born in the 1960s still active in professional racing.
Jaan Kirsipuu, six weeks younger than Cuesta, is making a comeback with the CKT-Champion System continental team while Jens Voigt, 40 in September, is the oldest active racer at the ProTeam level.
Cuesta holds the record for the most participations in the Vuelta a España with 17 consecutive starts. Last year, Vuelta organizers gave Cuesta the honor of starting with the No. 1 race bib, in part to mark his record and also due to the absence of defending champion Alejandro Valverde, who was sidelined from his Puerto ban.
Cuesta’s arrival at Caja Rural should bolster the team’s hopes of earning a bid to the 2011 Vuelta and give Cuesta a chance to bump his record to 18 Vueltas. The veteran climber and domestique also raced seven times the Tour de France and three Giro d’Italia.
Caja Rural includes a mix of promising youth and experienced veterans. José Herrada, 26, has shown the most potential after winning a stage at last year’s Tour of Portugal and scoring top-10s at the Circuito Montañes, the Vuelta a Asturias and the Tour de Normandy.
The move makes Cuesta the final Cervélo rider to land a job for the 2011 season. All but two riders from the now-defunct team have managed to score a contract for the coming season. Joao Correia retired while Joaquin Novoa, who has vehemently denied alleged links to the ongoing Operación Galgo doping scandal in Spain, remains without a team.
Here’s a look at where the 2010 Cervélo team has landed for this season:
Davide Appollonio – Team Sky
Theo Bos – Rabobank
Joao Correia – retired
Iñigo Cuesta – Caja Rural
Philip Deignan – RadioShack
Stefan Denifl – Leopard Trek
Xavier Florencio – Geox-TMC
Volodymir Gustov – SaxoBank Sungard
Roger Hammond – Garmin-Cervélo
Heinrich Haussler – Garmin-Cervélo
Jeremy Hunt – Team Sky
Thor Hushovd – Garmin-Cervélo
Ted King – Liquigas-Cannondale
Andreas Klier – Garmin-Cervélo
Ignatas Konovalovas – Movistar
Brett Lancaster – Garmin-Cervélo
Daniel Lloyd – Garmin-Cervélo
Joaquin Novoa – no team
Oscar Pujol – Omega Pharma-Lotto
Gabriel Rasch – Garmin-Cervélo
Martin Reimer – Skil-Shimano
Dominique Rollin – FDJ
Carlos Sastre – Geox-TMC
Xavier Tondo – Movistar
Marcel Wyss – Geox-TMC